1 AnswerThe mean age of onset for Parkinson’s disease is around 60. We do see a handful of patients who have onset of disease before the age of 50, which we call young onset and juvenile onset. Below the age of 18 is extremely rare. We rarely see that scenario.
1 AnswerHealthwise answered
If you develop a tremor
Urgent medical care isn't needed if you have had a tremor--shaking or trembling--for some time. But you should discuss the tremor at your next doctor's appointment.
If a tremor is affecting your daily activities or if it is a new symptom, see your doctor sooner.
A written description will help your doctor make a correct diagnosis. In writing your description, consider the following questions:
- Did the tremor start suddenly or gradually?
- What makes it worse or better?
- What parts of your body are affected?
- Have there been any recent changes in the medicines you are taking or how much you are taking?
If you have Parkinson's disease
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's, call your doctor if:
- You notice any significant change in your symptoms, such as severe episodes of freezing--a sudden loss of mobility--which may affect walking.
- Your response to your medicine changes.
- Any other symptoms occur, such as constipation, sexual problems or incontinence.
- You have symptoms of depression, such as feeling sad and hopeless and losing interest in daily activities.
- You or your family notice that you have problems with memory and thinking ability.
Who to see
The following health professionals can help diagnose or treat Parkinson's disease:
- Family doctor
Other health professionals who may be involved in your care include the following:
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Speech therapist
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1 AnswerIf you are concerned about your loved one driving safely, and it is difficult for you to take the car keys away or deny the person the right to drive, talk with your loved one’s doctor. Often, a trusted doctor can convince their patient to quit driving when a loved one cannot.
Some doctors may be reluctant to restrict driving privileges. In that case, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may be your ally. If the person with Parkinson's disease applies for a handicapped parking permit or for disabled plates, she will be required to take a driver’s test; the DMV may then revoke the person’s driving privileges.
A No-Start Battery Switch provides peace of mind. Convincing a loved one that he is unsafe to drive is often a challenging task. By attaching this device to the car battery, you can, with the turn of a knob, disable the car and make it impossible to start. When you want to start the car, simply turn the knob in the opposite direction to enable the battery again. Designed to affect starting only, it will not affect the clock, the radio, or the car’s computer settings.
1 AnswerIf a person with Parkinson’s disease begins hallucinating, try to explain that the medicine isn’t working and is causing the hallucination. Keep notes on what time of day the hallucinations occur; also record what was taken and when the medications were last taken. This will help the doctor if the medications need to be adjusted. Adjusting the medications may not make the hallucinations disappear, but they may be less disturbing. (For example, if the person sees large green giants, medication adjustment may cause the person to see little green ants.)
1 AnswerIf you have Parkinson's disease and tend to fall asleep during a particular activity, tell your doctor. You might be experiencing sleep attacks, which are different from normal sleepiness. Also, keep track of any hallucinations or delusions you might be experiencing. Medications can sometimes cause nocturnal wanderings, hallucinations, delusions, or other problems. Adjusting your dosage of a particular medication or adding a new prescription might help with those symptoms. If your sleep is still disturbed even after following your doctor’s recommendations about the timing of your medication doses, consider getting an examination by a sleep specialist trained in managing patients with neurologic disorders.
1 AnswerEducating yourself about Parkinson’s disease is a great way to get involved in your own healthcare. The American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA) and the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) are wonderful resources for accurate, up-to-date information. Enlist your friends and family members to do research, too. It will give you all something positive to do. Collect information from newspapers, magazines, and medical journals. If there is a university near your home, visit the medical school library or search for reputable resources on the Internet. Share information and learn together.
Bring articles and information to your next doctor’s appointment, so that you can discuss the findings and see how they relate to your case. You may even find that you’ve read medical journal articles before your doctor has had a chance to read them. It never hurts to be proactive when it comes to your health. Be sure that you and your family know how any prescribed medications work, what the side effects are, and which side effects you should report to your doctor. Do not take any medication, including nonprescription products such as vitamins, dietary supplements, allergy and cold medicines, pain relievers, or herbal remedies, without first consulting your doctor.
1 AnswerWhen the person with Parkinson’s disease gets stuck in a freeze, try taking his hands in yours (as you face him) and gently pumping your hands up and down in an alternating motion.
1 AnswerIf you’re helping someone with Parkinson’s disease to walk, follow these tips:
- Ask first, “Would you like help?” Never grab an arm or try to help a person without permission. Let the person with Parkinson’s disease tell you how to help her. Remember, you are supplying balance control not physical support. Don’t try to pull the person along or lift her.
- Before you start walking, count down from the number five to the number one and on one, begin walking. Let the person whom you are assisting set the pace. When appropriate, announce upcoming changes in the terrain (“There’s a step down.”)
- To help a person with Parkinson’s disease walk, stand in front of him and hold his hands. When you walk backwards, gently guide him forward. Give verbal cues like “Let’s walk now.”
- If the person with Parkinson’s disease wears bifocals, he may need extra help when using stairs. Going down stairs is often more difficult than walking up. When we go upstairs, we usually look through the top (or long-distance range) part of the lens, but when we go downstairs, we look down (through the near-distance or reading part of the lens). Looking down, our feet aren’t close enough for our eyes to focus on through the reading part of the bifocal. No matter which direction you are going—up or down stairs—watch carefully.
- When assisting someone walking up or down stairs, take one stair at a time. Let the person you are assisting hold onto a handrail, if one is available. Make sure she places each foot completely on each stair. When going up stairs, have the person lead with the stronger foot. When going down stairs, have the person lead with the weaker foot. Stand in front of the person when descending stairs, and behind the person when ascending the stairs.
1 AnswerIf you’re speaking to someone with has Parkinson’s disease, keep these tips in mind:
- Hold conversations at eye level and make eye contact during conversation. Sit down if the person with Parkinson's disease is sitting, and assume a relaxed posture to convey your patience and willingness to listen. Speak clearly and calmly and allow enough time for a thorough exchange of words. Be patient—most people with Parkinson's disease who have difficulty speaking have no cognitive difficulty (meaning their minds are just fine); instead, their muscles and nerves are preventing them from speaking as clearly as they did in the past.
- Avoid finishing sentences for someone with Parkinson's disease unless he asks for your help finding a word or phrase. Reinforce instances of good, intelligible speech. Give feedback such as a nod of the head or a “yes” or “I see” to indicate that you understand what he is saying. However, don’t say you understand when you really do not. Repeat any part of the message you did understand and ask for clarification or repetition of the rest. Asking for a repetition of a phrase can result in clearer pronunciation the second time around.
- Ask the person with Parkinson's disease to restate a phrase or sentence using different words. If you cannot understand what was said, ask for clarification; if you pretend to understand to save time, misunderstandings can result. In addition, the person with Parkinson's disease may not make as much of an effort to speak clearly if she thinks you understand.
- Ask questions that require yes/no answers. For example, instead of asking, “What would you like to eat?” ask, “Would you like a turkey sandwich?” Or, ask questions that will elicit one-word, or short-phrased responses. Ask, “What kind of meat would you like on your sandwich?” instead of “What do you want for lunch?” Or, offer a few choices when you ask a question: “Would you like soup or a sandwich for lunch? Would you like tomato soup or chicken noodle soup?” Use some gentle prompts before beginning a new topic of conversation. Say, for example, “Let’s talk about your grandchildren.” When you change the subject, use similar cues (“Let’s talk about the Super Bowl now”).